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Zhangjiajie Travel Guide

WulingyuanLost Souls Platform (迷魂台) in Yuanjiajie (袁家界), a major attraction of Zhangjiajie

Zhangjiajie is famous for its precarious peaks, limpid streams, dense forests, and large karst caves. In 1982, Zhangjiajie National Forest Park became China's first national forest park.

Avatar's Halleluyah Mountains

The American Hollywood director, James Cameron, visited Zhangjiajie and was deeply attracted by the amazing scenery. So he used the pictures taken in Zhangjiajie for his famous 3D film, Avatar. The floating mountain in the film is the Qiankun Pillar in Zhangjiajie. Because of the film, it was later renamed "Halleluyah".

Flora and Fauna

Xihai Stone Forest, ZhangjiajieXihai Stone Forest from Yunqingyan Platform in Tianzi Mountain Nature Reserve

Zhangjiajie is a natural treasure trove. The forest coverage is over 95%, with more than 1,000 plant species. There are also rare animals such as the red-billed Leiothrix ("Peking Nightingale"), pangolins (scaly anteaters), Zhangjiajie wild boars ("mountain pigs"), giant salamanders, macaques, and rhesus monkeys.

Acrobatic Flight

In 2006 the Russian Air Force performed their acrobatic flight skills over Tianmen Mountain, Zhangjiajie, which brought worldwide fame for both the city and the scenic area.

Attractions in Zhangjiajie

Zhangjiajie Attraction Map

 Yellow Stone Stronghold Yellow Stone Stronghold in Zhangjiajie National Park

Zhangjiajie National Forest Park is one of several national parks within Wulingyuan Scenic Area. Wulingyuan Scenic Area consists of four parts: Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, Yangjiajie Natural Reserve Area, Suoxiyu Scenic Area, and Tianzishan Scenic Area. It covers an area of 369 square kilometers. In 1992 Wulingyuan Scenic Area was listed as a World Natural Heritage Site by UNESCO.

Besides Wulingyuan Scenic Area, there is also Jinbian Stream (Golden Whip Stream), Yellow Stone Stronghold (Huangshi Village), Yuanjiajie, Tianmen Mountain, Puguang Temple, Mengdong River, and the famous Phoenix Town is not far.

Highlights

Glass Skywalk in Tianmen Mountain — Try it and you will feel like you are walking in the sky. It is very exciting!

Jinbian Stream (Golden Whip Stream) — It is one of the most beautiful parts of Zhangjiajie National Forest Park. It was where the Mountain of Flowers and Fruits in the TV play series A Journey to the West was filmed.

Yellow Stone Stronghold (Huangshi Village) — You can see the peak forest there.

Yuanjiajie — You will see "Halleluyah Mountain" which appeared in the film Avatar.

Tickets/Entrance fees

Tianzi Mountain, Zhangjiajie Emperor's Brush Peak (Yubi Feng 御笔峰)in Tianzi Mountain Nature Reserve

A ticket to Wulingyuan Scenic Area is valid for three days. It is a comprehensive ticket, which costs 248 yuan (about USD 40) and includes a three-day park pass, free rides on the internal bus system, and insurance.

Students under 25 years old with valid student ID (this also applies to foreigners if you show your passport) can buy student tickets for 160 yuan (plus an additional 3 yuan for the insurance). You can also get a discounted ticket if you are 60 or over. Just show your passport to prove your age.

Climate

Huangshi Village Yellow Stone Stronghold in heavy fog

Zhangjiajie has a temperate, subtropical, monsoon climate, with low sunshine and high rainfall and humidity. The annual sunlight average is 4 hours/day, and monthly precipitation ranges from 50–200 mm (2–8"). The July average high is 35°C (95°F) while the January low is -1°C (30°F).

Best Times to Visit

From April to June, it is the rainy season in Zhangjiajie. The road will be slippery and the mountains will be covered by extensive fog, which gives it an enchanting atmosphere. There is heavy fog in the park in the rainy season (April–June). The forest park is usually very humid during this period. There can be a big temperature difference within one day. In early morning or late afternoon, it can be 18°C (64°F). However, at noon, it can rise up to 30°C (80°F).

July and August are very hot and humid, though the rain is a bit less, and it is the peak tourist season.

From September to October, the autumn foliage becomes colorful and is very beautiful. Also, the temperature is more comfortable; a long-sleeved shirt and a thin coat will keep you warm enough.

Winter Not Recommended

From December to February, it may snow or become frozen. It is very cold in the mountainous area, with slippery roads; it is not very safe. Besides, the park is closed for one week in February for routine maintenance, so it is not recommended to visit during this time.

Transportation

Location

Zhangjiajie is in south central China. It is a prefecture and city in northwest Hunan Province. It is about 400 kilometers (249 miles) north of Changsha, Hunan's capital.

By Air

Zhangjiajie Hehua International Airport has flights to Hong Kong, Macau, Seoul and Busan in Korea, as well as to Fukuoka and Osaka in Japan.

For domestic cities, there are daily direct flights to and from Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Xi'an, Shenyang, and Changsha. However some cities, such as Shenzhen, Tianjin, and Xiamen, only have flights available every three or four days. If it is not convenient to fly to Zhangjiajie directly, you can go via Changsha as a transit city.

By taxi from Zhangjiajie Airport to Zhangjiajie City, it costs about 20–40 yuan. From Zhangjiajie Airport to Wulingyuan Scenic Area entrance is about 100 yuan. Some taxi drivers may be unwilling to use the meter, or attempt to charge you a "parking lot fee". We recommend you call your hotel/hostel and ask them to speak with the taxi driver for you, and that you negotiate the price with the driver before you start the journey.

By Train

There are limited trains going to Zhangjiajie directly. You can go via Changsha where there are more options for you to choose to get to Zhangjiajie. For example, train, bus or flight. See Zhangjiajie Transportation.

By Road

The roads from the airport to the scenic area are winding mountain roads. Visitors who suffer from carsickness are recommended to take some medication in advance, or to ask the driver to slow down the speed.

Where to Stay

Most of the hotels in Zhangjiajie are concentrated in four areas: downtown Zhangjiajie, at the east gate, the west gate, or inside Zhangjiajie National Forest Park.

Zhangjiajie Hotel Map

Downtown Zhangjiajie

Advantages: Close to the railway station and airport (6–10 kilometers), it is convenient to take a bus or a taxi.

Disadvantages: It is 35 kilometers from the scenic area, which may add two hours to your travel time every day, and adds to traveling expenses.

Good for tourists who arrive at Zhangjiajie on the first night, or who have finished their trip and going to catch a flight or train the following morning, or who only want to visit the sights around the city of Zhangjiajie.

The East Gate of the Forest Park

Advantages: Suoxiyu (索溪峪), next to Wulingyuan Scenic Area, is central to attractions like Tianzi Mountain, Yellow Dragon Cave, and Baofeng Lake. With convenient transportation to many other scenic spots, it is a gathering place of hotels.

Disadvantages: It is about 40 kilometers or 40 minutes from the railway station and airport. When staying outside the scenic area, the entry ticket is only valid for 2 days; you have to stay inside the scenic region if you want to stay longer.

Good for tourists who only have enough time to see the main attractions: Tianzi Mountain, Yellow Dragon Cave, and Baofeng Lake. Suoxiyu offers a range of accommodations, from luxury resorts to cheap rooms for backpackers.

The West Gate of the Forest Park

Advantages: It is convenient to visit Zhangjiajie National Forest Park. You can choose from four-star hotels to cheap inns, such as Pipaxi Hotel.

Disadvantages: 40 kilometers or 40 minutes from the railway station and airport, it is also not convenient to visit many of the main attractions of Wulingyuan. Gold Whip Stream Grand Canyon is very close to the gate, but you have to go back and forth through the canyon to visit the rest of the Forest Park.

Good for tourists who have limited time and only plan to visit a few scenic spots like Huangshi Village and Gold Whip Stream. 

In Zhangjiajie National Forest Park

Due to the need for environmental protection inside Wulingyuan Scenic Area only rural home inns remain. Only by staying in these inns can you get an entrance ticket for more than two days. There are three hotel areas: Yangjiajie, Yuanjiajie, and Tianzi Mountain.

Advantages: Staying inside the forest park enables you to travel at a slower pace, and to save quite a bit of money and time. It is convenient for watching scenic sunrises and sunsets.

Disadvantages: The environment and facilities of rural home inns are quite a step down from hotels outside the scenic region, and the rooms may get fully booked during peak periods (particularly national holidays), so you should book in advance. The inns are small, staff don't speak English, and hot water is limited in winter.

Good for tourists who don't mind more basic accommodation, and have enough time to enjoy a longer trip at a slower pace.